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[OH] Diabetes rates on the rise

Diabetes rates on the rise in Ohio
Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Health officials say the number of diabetes cases in Ohio has almost doubled in about a decade, which some attribute to poor eating habits and inactivity.

The rise among children is especially grabbing attention, as more are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, which is often related to obesity and is the most common form of the disease.

"That is due largely to overweight issues. Children eating too many calories and not getting enough exercise," said Elizabeth Bonfield, assistant director at the Central Ohio Diabetes Association.

In the past, a child who developed diabetes almost always had type 1, which occurs when the body makes little or no insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar, said Dr. Samuel Cataland, who specializes in diabetes at Ohio State University.

The number of diabetes cases in Ohio almost doubled from 1994 to 2003, said Jay Carey, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Health. The department estimates about 1 million people in Ohio have the disease, although about 267,000 cases are undiagnosed. About 20 million Americans have diabetes.

Most of the roughly 177,000 Americans under age 20 with diabetes have type 1, but type 2 cases are growing.

Columbus Children's Hospital has seen the number of diabetes cases increase dramatically in the last 10 to 15 years, said Wynola Wayne, a diabetes nurse clinician.

"Overall, we are averaging about 150 new cases a year just in our center," Wayne said. "That is pretty high considering we used to average about one new case a week."

Ashlee Townsend, 18, of Sedalia in Madison County, has struggled to manage her diabetes since she was diagnosed with type 2 as an 8-year-old.

"I was falling asleep. I wasn't able to concentrate. The school sent me to the hospital to have tests. That is when they found out," she said.

Her father and other relatives also have the disease, which Townsend manages with insulin injections.

Some type 2 diabetics can use exercise and diet alone to control the disease, which impairs the body's ability to properly use insulin, Cataland said. Many have to take pills or inject insulin.

Without treatment, diabetes can cause serious complications such as blindness, kidney failure, nerve damage and heart disease. Diabetes is the fifth-leading cause of death in Ohio.

Wayne said managing a child's diabetes requires the entire family's support.

"If one child is obese and predisposed to diabetes, everyone in that family needs to be involved in changing behavior and lifestyle by getting more involved in physical activities, walking more, exercising as a family unit," she said.

Travis Grimm of Heath, about 30 miles east of Columbus, has been using a pump to deliver insulin to his body for about five years. The 18-year-old was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 7 and started giving himself shots at 10.

"You have to accept it and realize that it is going to be a part of your life for the rest of your life," said Grimm, whose 13-year-old brother, Kyle, also has the disease. "If you don't, you will be sick again, you will be back in the hospital and you will be miserable."

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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